It’s easy to forget that Jose Mourinho was once the most exciting up-and-coming manager in world football.
Cast your minds back to 2006. Mourinho was in his second season at Chelsea, having taken English football by storm in winning the Premier League, League Cup and Community Shield during a whirlwind first campaign on the King’s Road.
Your mum loved him. Your dad started dying his hair to look like him. When Barcelona rolled into town in February, Jose had a chance to inflate his already gigantic ego to stratospheric size. As the tactical notes he prepared in the build-up to the meetings show, Jose was leaving nothing to chance.
Amongst the star names of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Deco, one player who Jose clearly wasn’t too worried about was defender Oleguer.
“Makes mistakes with the ball making him ideal target for pressure. Defensively poor, has no pace and chooses his timings of the tackle poorly. When he tries to recover it is too late. No Speed, ideal to kill in diagonals,” the notes read.
You’d assume that ‘ideal to kill in diagonals’ is just a turn of phrase, but with Mourinho you never can be too sure.
Paul Pogba won’t be surprised to hear that Ronaldinho, the best player on the planet in 2006, didn’t avoid Mourinho’s wrath when it comes to defensive responsibility.
While accepting that the Brazilian had the ‘technical quality to avoid defenders on his first touch’, the notes state that he was ‘very poor on the defensive transition and with defensive work’ which Chelsea could ‘exploit’.
So how do you contain Ronaldinho in full flight? The notes suggest that ‘this momentum can be stopped by fouls’.
On the subject of fouling, several Barcelona players are singled out for being soft touches.
Rafael Marquez is noted for ‘faking contact like no other’, Ronaldinho is described as a a ‘constant cheater’ who ‘falls easily’ and the entire side are said to ‘constantly simulate inside and outside of the box’.
Ominously, Messi, who the notes describe slightly underwhelmingly as ‘very different to Ludovic Giuly’, is listed as ‘recovered from an injury recently’.
That could explain why Asier Del Horno lasted just 37 minutes before seeing red for trying to rearrange Messi’s kneecap.
Some of the notes are beautifully prophetic.
Victor Valdes’ ability to come out and cover his defenders meant ‘chips are possible’, which is something Ramires exposed six years later.
Mourinho’s love for Eto’o is also evident, with the Cameroonian described as someone who ‘chases, believes and keeps a high-intensity rhythm throughout the game’. Four years later, Eto’o and Mourinho completed the treble together at Inter Milan.
Unfortunately for Jose, all the homework was in vain. Barcelona came out on top over the two legs, winning 3-2 on aggregate.
Chelsea stopped Messi- who was still wearing no.30 on the back of his shirt- from scoring but could do nothing to halt the progress of Ronaldinho and Eto’o.
We’re sure Mourinho took the loss in his stride.
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